Productive sales conversations

3 Ways to Improve Your C-Level Prospecting

I saw this happen regularly during my time as a COO — well-intentioned salespeople with their minds focused on C-level sales prospecting blowing up my phone, my inbox, or my LinkedIn as they try in vain to earn a spot on my calendar. Their promise: Guaranteed solutions to help my business be more efficient, spend less money, and protect our information.

Do I want to be more efficient? Definitely. Do I want to spend less money and protect our information? Who wouldn’t?

Am I accepting their meeting requests? Absolutely not! Allow me to explain a bit more …

If it’s Important, Don’t Insult Everyone Else While Trying to Get to the Top

I’m not blind to the fact that they may actually have something relevant to the top priorities in our business, in which case I should and would meet with him. But I simply can’t spend the time BEFORE I know if this is the case (more on this later). Therefore, not only was I the wrong person to initially evaluate their potential solutions, but they also missed a terrific opportunity to learn more about our business to ensure they weren’t wasting their time or ours.

Their mistakes may have been one or a combination of several assumptions:

  • Only the C-level contact knows the information needed to uncover a sales opportunity

  • Only the C-level contact has the authority to evaluate a solution and commit the company to buy it

  • The gatekeeper is intent on keeping me from the C-level contact

This is the point where so many well-meaning salespeople fail in their C-level sales prospecting efforts. Rather than asking our executive or others in the business a few questions about our business and the issues that matter most to us, these people insist that they can only speak with me. As a result, they don’t get through to me, offend the person who could have helped them be successful, and unknowingly have their smartly worded follow-up email quickly deleted in one swift keystroke.

You Have to Know Me to Help Me

If you want C-level sales prospecting success, you’d better have something important to say. In today’s hectic business climate, decision-makers have far more priorities than time to address them. Every day, there are tasks we don’t get to.

Balls get dropped, and important issues that should be addressed don’t earn a second of our time.

So, one of the most important tasks for an executive is to make absolutely certain that the critical things (Stephen Covey referred to these as the “Big Rocks”) get done. Failing to do so can mean the difference between success and failure — and failure simply isn’t an option. With all that said, why didn’t I make an exception and talk to the C-level sales prospector this morning?

It’s simple — they aren’t taking the time to know me or relating anything they do to the big rocks in our business. And I certainly can’t afford to let one of them remain undone while I educate this person about what the big issues are.

How Can You Improve Your C-Level Sales Prospecting?

1.   Know what problems you can solve — Before you make a single call, be certain that you know what it is you are looking to uncover. You have opportunities when businesses have and care about problems you can solve.

2.   Do some research and make every call count — Even the person who answers the phone may have information that will help you understand what value you can bring. Gather information BEFORE you reach out to a decision-maker, as this person likely won’t have the time or the inclination to educate you. Understanding the top priorities and challenges for a target company can be as easy as a quick call or a little online research, but it can pay enormous dividends.

3.   Be compelling — When and if you find a meaningful business problem you can solve, share it with the targeted contact. Don’t be secretive, and don’t make crazy promises. Simply share what you’ve learned, and if it is a real business priority, securing an appointment will be the easiest part of your day. Imagine the difference in a C-Level contacts reaction when you use some generic benefit statement claiming you can help their business versus their view when you share that you’ve learned about an important initiative they have that you can help them achieve.

Whether you are calling on net new accounts, or prospecting for new opportunities within existing customers, following these steps can help you fill your pipeline with more opportunities that close at a significantly higher rate.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you can help — KNOW you can.

Want to learn more? Axiom provides a unique alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events, we embed our methodology into your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better sales results. To learn more about our Mindful Selling Methodology, Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us at

Enterprise Sales Sucess

A New Year’s Resolution for Your Enterprise Sales Team

It’s nearly that time again! From eating better to getting more exercise and spending more time with loved ones, in a few short weeks people everywhere will begin the new year intent on creating new healthy habits or abandoning old unhealthy ones. It seems like the perfect time to take a similar view of your enterprise sales team, and the good news is that just one simple change in 2023 could change everything about your sales performance now and for many years to come.

Keystone Habits for Enterprise Sales

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes the power and importance of Keystone Habits. According to Mr. Duhigg, Keystone Habits are small changes people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives. In other words, slight changes that have a profound effect. Some common examples of Keystone Habits that can have significant impact include:

  • Regular family dinners

  • Exercise

  • Meditation

  • Daily planning

  • And yes, even making your bed

So, what are the keystone habits for your enterprise sales team?

Perhaps you think better prospecting is the key. Or, you have become convinced that they need to be better storytellers, use social media more effectively, challenge customers more, or provide better insights. While it may be true that improvements in these areas would help your salespeople produce better results, none of these are likely Keystone Habits for your salespeople. In fact, the Keystone Habits probably don’t require training as much as a structured approach to change management and tremendous discipline. Our suggested Keystone Habit for enterprise salespeople in 2023, the fundamental change that may have the farthest-reaching impact, will change what sellers do with the information they gather about their opportunities and accounts!

Capture, Record, and Share Information

Think about this for a moment. What is the natural tendency for most salespeople after leaving a customer meeting? What do they do with the information they gather? Most file it away, sometimes in the recesses of their minds or a folder inside a cabinet. Either way, they almost always store it.

Here is what they don’t do: they don’t share it.

Unless it is excellent news, they don’t generally run back and debrief with their manager and colleagues to compare what they uncovered to their target information objectives. They don’t produce a report that is circulated to any other team member who might be able to assist with the account or opportunity. And they most certainly don’t enter what they have gathered into any system or tool that can help them see what they have missed, objectively evaluate the opportunity, develop a better strategy, or identify opportunities to develop their skills. Because salespeople don’t have the habit of sharing information, let alone putting information into a tool, most tools can do little to help them become more effective. In addition, since there is little in the way of an objective view of a customer contact unless a sales manager actually observes it, real, meaningful coaching conversations essential to driving the adoption of any new skills are limited in frequency and scope. As a result, most training programs have little lasting impact.

Finally, and perhaps most critically, if you run an enterprise sales team with any turnover, critical information about your prospects and customers walks out the door every time a salesperson leaves the business. This puts your future revenue at risk.

A Small but Difficult Change

What if your people were in the habit of recording key information about opportunities and accounts and sharing that with relevant members of the team? What if you knew the evaluators for every opportunity in your pipeline? What if you knew the other alternatives your prospects were considering and the criteria they would use to determine which alternative to choose? What if you knew what their most pressing business issues are? What if, and please don’t freak out when we say this, but what if they actually recorded this information right in your CRM? After all, should a Customer Relationship Management system have information about the customer relationships you hope to manage?

Moreover, what if you knew which sellers on your team did and did not have this information for which specific opportunities?

How much better would the coaching be? How much more accurate would forecasting be? How much better could we serve customers if we only knew what information we had and what was missing? You see, it isn’t what we don’t know that dooms us – it’s what we don’t know that we don’t know. And in sales, this is our most fundamental problem – we don’t share what we do and don’t know about our opportunities and accounts in any scalable, efficient manner.

Imagine for a moment you work in a hospital with hundreds of patients and dozens of doctors and nurses. Your hospital is like most in terms of the care it provides and the processes it follows— with one minor exception. In your hospital, there are no patient charts. If a nurse or doctor wants to know something about the patient, she can either ask the patient or ask the last person who treated the patient. Can you imagine the frustration?! Every analysis requires a new level of exploration and rehashing of things that have already been covered multiple times.

That is precisely what it is like to be a sales manager talking with a seller about a key account or opportunity. Although enterprise sales teams spend millions on their CRM systems, most have little, if any, critical information about their key accounts and working opportunities.

2023 Enterprise Sales Resolution: Information Defines Opportunity

  • Now imagine how much more effective your team could be if they gathered and efficiently shared information such as:
  • Evaluators for each opportunity

  • Other alternatives being considered and any that are favored

  • Business issues affecting the prospect or customer

  • Criteria for making a buying decision

  • Decisions stages

They would not only win at a higher rate but also spend less time working opportunities that they cannot and will not win. Moreover, managers could have dramatically more effective and efficient coaching conversations because they would no longer need to spend so much time pulling information from sellers and could focus their energy on real gaps in the seller’s ability to elicit and leverage important information. In fact, our analysis shows that by leveraging the CRM to store and analyze this type of information, managers can save as much as 45 minutes per opportunity review and be more effective!

Finally, when key information is entered into a system leveraging predictive technology, the system itself can help the seller gain a more objective view of the opportunity and thereby forecast more accurately, develop better strategies, and even improve their skill and knowledge. With so much potential upside, isn’t it time you fully leverage your CRM and make it the tool it was meant to be – a tool that helps your team learn, coach, and sell with greater effectiveness than ever before? Make no mistake, this isn’t the right resolution for every sales team, especially more transactional teams with shorter sales cycles. But for enterprise sales organizations working complex opportunities, strategic accounts, and long sales cycles, this resolution has the power to dramatically alter their collective effectiveness.

Want to learn more?Axiom provides a unique alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events,we embed our methodologyinto your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better results. To learn more about our Mindful Selling Methodology, Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us at